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NED Whisky sees in ‘the Year of Green Sash’ at Webster’s

At what was effectively the NSW launch of NED Whisky’s new Green Sash Reserve at Webster’s on Wednesday night, Master Distiller Seb Reaburn forecasted the brand’s 2023.

“We see it really as the Year of Green Sash,” Reaburn told The Shout.

The spirit is named for the Green Sash that Ned Kelly was awarded after rescuing a boy from drowning, which he later wore under his armour in his final standoff with police.

Explaining the production process of Green Sash, Reaburn said: “It takes most inspiration from everything we learnt from the Wanted Series, but Ingenuity [a Wanted Series whisky] is at the heart of this. We use that same process, that we’re calling the Melbourne County process.”

The process, introduced with Ingenuity, involves dumping barrels over additional staves of toasted American oak.

“It starts with those same reserve barrels that we saw in the Wanted Series, but we’re much more careful about how we choose them, so not just about quality, but about style. We need to make sure that their flavour profile’s the same, and then they get blended,” Reburn explains.

“We start with 40 barrels, that then goes into a wooden vat, and we draw down half of that, and we harvest 24 more barrels, and that goes into that vat. So it’s a little bit of a Solera system that’s going on there.

“With our NED Original we have a 30 day rest, this is currently a 90 day rest. That way we can get consistency.”

Reaburn also outlined where in the market the new expression would be sitting.

“This is a whisky that will be ongoing and available all the time. And this really has been designed for cocktails – also for sipping – but you know, the Old Fashioned, the Sazerac, these are some of my favourite drinks, and this is where this really sort of excels.”

Reaburn also highlighted the construction of a new distillery for the Australian Agave Project as a major focus for Top Shelf International (parent company of NED), while flagged the potential for new products to be released surrounding the 60th anniversary of the Bathurst 1000 coming to the NSW town.

“We also will have a couple of collaborations and we will be doing again the Sounds of Bathurst,” Reaburn said.

“We sound age barrels – so we have a sound booth that we built that fits 12 barrels, and each barrel sits over a speaker in the floor. And then we just vibrate them with noise 24 hours a day. So the first project that we’ve done is the engine noise on a hot lap of Bathurst from the V8 Mustangs from Kelly Grove Racing.

“It completely changes the whisky. So one of the things that we didn’t quite enable last year was to give people a taste of the before and after, so that’s something that we want to do this year.”

Another potential area of expansion is into rye whisky, something Reaburn hinted could be on the way from NED.

“We definitely don’t have any ready to be put in a bottle yet,” the Master Distiller said.

“It would be remiss of us not to be sort of playing with rye. It’s an exceptional grain, and its another tradition of American whiskey.”

At Wednesday’s event, media guests and the public enjoyed a tasting of five NED spirits, beginning with the distillery’s new make, and moving through the standard expression, a couple of Wanted Series spirits, before concluding with NED Green Sash. Three cocktails were also served – including a NED & Dry and a NED & Cola poured from the brand’s own RTDs.

Finally, Scott Fitzsimons, Industry Engagement and Experience Manager for NED, wrapped up the event, outlining the brand’s overarching ambitions and its role within the wider Australian whisky industry.

“We have a vision, and if we can get that right, if we can get people to want to spend $60 on a bottle of Australian whisky, we drag everyone with us – that’s our responsibility, and we take that responsibility very, very seriously.”

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